|A Church Growth Study of the Zuni Indians||Ralph Bruce Terry|
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Early Presbyterian efforts. The first records of Protestant missionary efforts in Zuni report that in 1871 the Presbyterian Church sent missionaries out to try approaches to the Zunis, Utes, and Jicarilla Apaches.16 What came of this effort is not known, but in 1877, Dr. H. K. Palmer and his wife came to Zuni and opened a school. Not only was the work difficult, however, but also false stories were circulated about the school.17 In 1878 the efforts were transferred from the Board of Foreign Missions to the Board of Home Missions.18
When Cushing arrived in Zuni in 1879, a Dr. Ealy was missionary. There was a mission west of the pueblo. He apparently was not well accepted by the Zunis.19 For a while, a lone woman missionary was in charge of the day school.20 In 1886 Miss Mary E. Disette and Miss Carrie B. Bond came to the pueblo to work in the school. By 1889 the enrollment had reached 129 pupils. But in 1896 the government rescinded its policy of supporting Christian missions on a reservation if they would provide schooling for the Indians. Thus in this year the government took over the Presbyterian day school and the next year the Presbyterians turned their work over to the Christian Reformed Church.21
Christian Reformed Work
History. Around 1895 the Christian Reformed Mission Board became interested in the Indians of the Southwest. Herman Fryling and Andrew VanderWagen along with their wives were commissioned to go to Gallup to work among the Navahos. Andrew VanderWagen was fresh from Holland and had not yet finished his fourth year at Calvin College nor had he been ordained. On October 10, 1896 the party arrived on the field and set up base at Fort Defiance. VanderWagen met some Zunis and went to visit their village. The Presbyterians were willing to turn the work over to him, so getting permission from the mission board, he and his wife with their baby Edward moved to Zuni on October 9, 1897. At first they stayed in a building of Mr. Graham's, the trader. They soon obtained the present mission property for $100 with the help of Nick Tumaka. VanderWagen built a house there, but in doing so, he encountered hostility, even a bodily attack.22
In the winter of 1898-1899, a severe epidemic of small-pox came to Zuni. VanderWagen and his wife, who was a nurse, helped the sick. They hoped this might provide an open door for the gospel; however, when the epidemic was over, although the Zunis were appreciative, they remained unconverted. VanderWagen acquired a working vocabulary of Zuni, and with the help of Nich Tumaka, he translated the Gospel of Mark, other parts of the Scriptures, and some songs. Lorenzo Chavez, who had returned from the Indian School in Phoenix in 1902, was also some help. VanderWagen built a bridge across the Zuni river and then in 1904-1905 a small adobe chapel at the cost of $800. It had a typical church steeple, crowned by a cross. In 1905, there were from twelve to eighteen receiving catechetical instruction, twelve to forty-eight attending church, and fifty enrolled in Sunday School. The Z. I. Ranch, ten miles north of Zuni, was purchased in order to build an industrial school, but this plan was never carried out. On November 6, 1906, Fryling moved from Fort Defiance to Zuni. Differences of opinion led to VanderWagen's resignation that same year.23
Herman Fryling worked with the Zuni mission for over twenty years. During that time the staff grew to include the missionary and three helpers, an assistant missionary and for the new school a matron and a teacher. The school was started November 5, 1908 with Fryling's two children and four Zunis. Miss Nellie DeJong was the first teacher. Meindert VanderBeek was the first assistant missionary. He started the YMCA at Zuni. Its membership was composed mostly of returned students from the government non-reservation schools. In 1922 he was replaced by Bert Sprink, A parsonage was constructed in 1914. It was of Dutch colonial architecture with a steeply pitched roof. The years that Fryling served saw the first converts. In the period 1918-1920, three young men were baptized and a fourth was before 1922. In 1924 another young man was baptized but he died within a year. Fryling was cautious in accepting candidates for baptism for he feared that they might easily fall away.24 Dolfin wrote in 1921, "A great number of others would be wining to accept Christian Baptism if the Missionary would only be ready to receive them. . ."25 Church attendance during this period, however, was mostly by whites and Sunday School enrollment was down to forty.26
In 1925 a new Parsonage was built in Blackrock. Fryling moved into it and remained in the work about four more years. On September 27, 1925, Calvin G. Hayenga came to help Fryling. His family occupied the Zuni parsonage until Fryling retired, at which time they moved to the now Blackrock parsonage. Heyenga learned to speak Zuni with the help of Norman Napetcha, the government interpreter. Nick Tamaka helped him to understand their native ways. He persuaded Andrew VanderWagen to come back into active service and for twenty months the VanderWagens maintained a small hospital in the Zuni parsonage. A new building complex was completed in March 1927. A chapel was built in Blackrock in 1931 to work with the Indians in the government boarding school there. School attendance in this period more than doubled. In 1927 Cornelius Kuipers also came to Zuni. During this period VanderWagen, with the help of Lorenzo Chavez, translated the pamphlet Catechism for Indian Christians by L. P. Brink into Zuni. In it God is identified not only as "God, our Father" but also as a:wona:willona. Difficulties arose and the VanderWagens were transferred to Farmington and Hayenga changed places with John W. Brink of Two Wells on November 16, 1931.27
Brink came to Zuni just as the depression really began to make itself felt. Because of it, Ed VanderWagen, the interpreter, had to leave. Brink replaced him with Rex Natewa, a Zuni who had been baptized some years before at the Albuquerque Indian School. Kuipers left to go to Canoncito in 1932. The staff was reduced to Brink and his wife, Rex Natewa, two teachers, and the matron-housekeeper. The government school at Blackrock was closed in 1934, so Bethany Chapel at Blackrock was no longer used. In spite of these setbacks, however, two adults were baptized In this decade. School attendance continued to climb and a third teacher was added. Brink left on September 15, 1938.28
Brink was replaced by George Yff. Rex Natewa was kept on as interpreter. Each Saturday he would study the lesson that Yff was to give the next day and that he was to interpret. In 1939 Kuipers returned to teach again and was made principal in 1943. There were several baptisms in this period. An emphasis was put on translation into Zuni. With the help of Dr. H. Carroll Whitener, a linguist of the Presbyterian Church and missionary among the pueblos near Albuquerque, a translation of the Gospel of John was completed in 1941. Rex Natewa's help was indispensable. Whitener had spent five years in Japan and felt that there were similarities between the Zuni and Japanese language structures. This recognition greatly expedited the Zuni translation. For example, a syllabic alphabet such as the type used in transliterating Japanese was adopted. The translation did have several weaknesses, however. Many words which were difficult to translate were simply transposed from English and the translation had a grammatical sentence structure based on English instead of Zuni. Word division was very poorly done. Yff left on November 7, 1944.29
Cornelius Kuipers became the missionary in his place. Several baptisms occurred while he was missionary. After studying hard, he was ordained in 1950. Kuipers has probably followed the work more closely than anyone else, being personally aquainted with every missionary from the Christian Reformed Church that has worked in Zuni. In 1945 he wrote a book about the work, Zuni Also Prays. Kuipers was also assisted by Rex Natewa as was Bernard Haven who followed him in 1954 as a missionary. Haven attended the Summer Institute of Linguistics in Norman, Oklahoma in 1955, but never made appreciable progress in learning the language. Haven died in 1961 and Rex Natewa took over the work alone.30 Rex Natewa held the services in both Zuni and English until Roger Posthuma came in 1965. Meanwhile, the work was transferred from the Board of Foreign Missions to the Board of Home Missions in 1964. The year 1964 saw several baptisms. In March of 1966 Rex Natewa died. He was the first Zuni to have a "totally Christian" funeral. He was replaced as native evangelist by Rex Chimoni, who in the summer of 1966 had just completed three years of study at the Reformed Bible Institute. Roger Posthuma left in 1967 and Rex Chimoni took over the missionary's duties as well. In 1969-1970 Peter De Jong served his internship as pastor and in June 1970 Donald Klompien became pastor. Although attendance dropped slightly, the years 1969-1971 saw a steady number of baptisms. On April 17, 1971 the school and church building burnt to the ground. Arson was suspected, but unprovable.31
Growth. Table 2 shows the responses that the Christian Reformed Church has had at Zuni among the Indians. The most important column is the adult baptisms column. The baptisms and transfers have been graphed by year in Figure 6. The best single year was 1966. Note that in the earlier years, the mission was more dependent on transfers and on baptisms of people who died soon afterwards. Most of the infant baptisms have had little effect on the recipients. Only three professions of faith have been made from this group, and these have all been children of Rex Natewa. Unlike the first responses, the responses in the sixties and seventies have been mostly women.32 Figure 7, which uses the same scale as Figure 6, shows what span each missionary has worked.
Table 3 presents the attendance material available on yearly averages. Monthly averages are found in Appendix B. The yearly averages are graphed in Figure 8, which is also on the same scale as Figure 6 for purposes of comparison. Note that the evening attendance, at which time the sermon is in the Zuni language, has varied little, while the morning service has seemed to follow the Sunday School in attendance. Attendance always takes a drop during the summer months. Of special interest is the rise in attendance in December 1966, at which time all services had an average of over 100. Other than the period 1966-1967, attendance has been on the drop since the mid-fifties.
The growth of the mission school is presented in Table 4. This table also contains enrollment statistics for the Catholic mission school for purposes of comparison. This information has been graphed In Figure 9. Note the sharp increases In the twenties and forties and the drop in the fifties.
Christian Reformed Indian Responses at Zuni
Period | Baptisms | Pof| Transfers |Res+| Total | | Adult | Infant| | from | from | from | |Increases| |Total|Db#| | | Albuquerque| Rehoboth| Others | | |
15-20 3 3 21-25 2 1 1 3 26-30 1 1 1 2 31-35 1 1 36-40 1 1 2 41-45 4@ 2@ 7 2 13@ 46-50 2 2 51-55¶ 3 10 2 7 1 1 6 56-60 2 6 1 9 61-65 6 6 2 12 66-70 4 7 11 71 3 1 3
*Kuipers, op. cit., pp. 10, 31, 42-43, 53-54, 67, 89, 1179 119, 143-1461 Dolfin, op. cit., pp. 313-314; Lindquist, op. cit., p. 274; articles in The [Rehoboth, New Mexico] Christian Indian. March 1964, December 1964, May 1966, June-July 1969, and February 19711 Field Notes, personal communication with H, January 1971; Zuni Christian Reformed Church membership book; and records of the Christian Reformed Home Board of Missions.
#Died within a year.
Professions of faith--not included in total,
@Perhaps one less.
¶Eight suspensions occurred this period.
Average Attendance at Zuni Christian Reformed Mission
| Year | Sunday | Sunday | Sunday | Weekday | Vacation | | | Morning | School | Evening | Services | Bible | | | (English) | | (Zuni) | | School |
1905 12-48 50# 12-18 1923 40# 17+ 1944 44 46 1945 70 52 1946 81 54 1947 68@ 47 1948 80@ 54 1949 73@ 50 1950 58 96 100 1951 71 102 110 1952 73 102 100 61 (96#) 1953 58 79 61 1954 65 82 49 58 (79#) 1955 65 92 58 1956 100 1958 80 40 1959 50-60 30-50 1960 78-115 1964 30 76 46 1965 30 68 38 75# 1966 50 73 47 1967 65 82 37 106 1968 46 63 35 1969 46 60 45 1970 42 55 30 1971 40 49 29
*Kuipers, op. cit., pp. 53-54, 104; Lindquist# op. cit., pp. 274-275; articles in The [Rehoboth, New Mexico] Christian Indian, August 1965, and September 1967; Zuni Local Conference minutes, August 21, 1952 and July 6, 1954; and records of the Christian Reformed Home Board of Miss ions,
@Possibly Sunday morning.
Zuni Mission School Enrollment
| Year | Christian | St. Anthony | | | Reformed | Catholic | | | Mission | Mission | | | School | School |
1908 6 1923 35 48 1927 60 1930 90 1940 116 1942 139 193 1943 150 1944 150 200 1963 115 1964 131 1965 138 1967 128 1968 137 1969 135 250 1970 143 253
*Kuipers, op. cit., pp. 95-97, 115-1161 Dolfin, op. cit., p. 324; Lindquist, op. cit., p. 273; Leighton and Adair, op. cit., pp. 289 128-129; articles in The [Rehoboth, New Mexico] Christian Indian, March 1964, November 1964, August 1965, November 19659 December 1968, May 1970, and November 19701 and Field Notes, personal communication with J, June 1971.
Policy. One writer says, "The missionaries seem to have been of the opinion that when the Indians were converted to Christianity they would also change their entire manner of living."33 This opinion seems to have determined Christian Reformed policy with reference to the Zuni culture. An honest effort has been made to preserve the exclusiveness of Christianity, but this has often been carried beyond the realm of religion even to the extent of Christians having little to do with nonChristians. Kuipers says, "A few Christian families live in Zuni, but because of their allegiance to the Christian way, they have little to do with the others."34 The Christian Reformed Church has started a new graveyard at Zuni far away from the Zuni cemetery by the old mission, which is considered pagan by some of the missionaries. The mission has tried to oppose the Tribal Council a few times on religious issues and has lost. The Gallup Inter-tribal Indian Ceremonial has been opposed by the missionaries because some of the dances, although none of the Zuni dances, have religious significance.35
There have been differences of opinion about whether in the realm of religion one should try to use existing concepts. For example, although VanderWagen used the word "a:wona:willona" for "God," Kuipers says:
The main thrust of the mission, therefore, has been to try to educate Indian children in Anglo thought patterns. Thus, the missionaries have tried to educate the Zuni children in Christian doctrine through the mission school.
To identify our God, "eternal, incomprehensible, invisible, immutable, infinite, almighty, perfectly wise, just, good, and the overflowing fountain of all good" (Article I of, The Confession of Faith) with an indefinite Holder of the Path proves rather a stumbling block than an aid to the full conception of the Christian message.36
Roman Catholic Work
History and policy. A few priests visited Zuni from the Catholic Church in Gallup during the first part of the twentieth century.37 In 1921 the Catholics appointed a resident missionary, and by 1922, a chapel for St. Anthony Mission had been constructed by the Franciscan Fathers of Cincinnati, Ohio. Anthony Kroger from Cincinnati was the mission's first director. Six buildings of native stone were erected: a chapel, a rectory, a school, a teacherage, a gymnasium, and a large garage with a youth activity room upstairs.38 As shown in Table 4 and Figure 90 the school has always had more students than the Christian Reformed Mission School. Enrollment is now steady at capacity. The Catholics have had an influence that is not reflected in their growth statistics. Often Zunis who are not Christians in any sense feel a vague attachment to the Catholic Church. The Franciscan priests who have served as pastors and assistant pastors are listed in Table 5.
Franciscan Priests at Zuni
|Former Associate Pastors|
The work at the Catholic mission progressed slowly until the mid-sixties. During this period, three changes in policy were made which have brought about a marked increase in growth. The first and most important policy change was the rejection of an exclusiveness in the message. The Catholic message is now one of dualism. All Zuni Catholics also participate in the Zuni religion. The points of similarity between the Catholic sacramental system and the Zuni religion are emphasized. An identification between the Zuni gods and the Catholic saints is hoped for. A second policy change switches the primary evangelistic thrust from children to family units where the parents are between the ages of twenty-five and forty-five. The mission school is no longer considered a method of evangelism; it is rather considered a part of the Catholic effort to get more involved in social activities. The third policy change is the introduction of special retreats called cursillos held at Zuni and other places. These retreats last from Thursday evening to Sunday evening. Participation is by invitation only. A cursillo includes teaching based on the sacramental system and an emotionalism that is reminiscent of revival. At this time there are fifty-five Zunis who have participated in this program.39
The old mission (Our Lady of Guadalupe) was restored in 1969 and the Catholics now use it for Sunday morning mass. St. Anthony Mission is used for all other services. All services are in English. Before the Second Vatican Council the liturgy was in Latin. Presently Zuni dance figures are being painted on the inside walls of the old mission. Niles Kraft, the present pastor, has been at Zuni for eleven years. He became pastor in 1963. Lery Wendling is the present associate pastor.40
Growth. For over forty years there was virtually no growth at the Catholic mission. By 1966 the active membership was only 10. By 1971 the active membership had increased to 260 due mainly to the policy changes noted above. This figure represents approximately seventy- five family units. Only five or six of these family units are Anglo; the rest are Zuni. Membership is graphed in Figure 10. The present average Sunday attendance is 215. Three-fourths of these individuals are adults. Baptisms are not such an important factor, since many people have been baptized as infants who do not consider themselves to be Christians. This is shown by the fact that there have been 2805 baptisms since 1922.41
History and policy. The Zuni Baptist Mission was organized October 25, 1959. There were twelve charter members, six of whom were Zunis. Audley Hamrick was the first pastor at the mission. The mission met in the home of Mrs. Kate Baldridge, who lived in Blackrock. Hamrick left in December 1960 and was replaced the next year by William R. Young. Young was active and by September 1962 the mission had fifty-seven members, thirty of whom were Zunis. Many of the Zuni members were children. In February 1963 the mission moved its meetings to the home of a Zuni, Mrs. Shack. In May 1964 Young left for mission school, and was asked by the tribe not to return. In November 1964 Eugene Branch became pastor. Russel Bowren was elected associate pastor for about five months. Attendance by Zunis increased and in April 1965 Dena's Cafe was obtained for use as a building. Then Branch ran into trouble with the Tribal Council and was asked to leave in July 1965. He was replaced as pastor by Roy Brentlinger from November 1965 to August 1966. Attendance began to drop. From November 1966 to June 1967 John Moore, a schoolteacher, served as interim pastor. Jean and Dennis McIntyre were summer workers in 1967. In October 1967 John Hubbard became pastor after having worked with the Pawnee Indians of Oklahoma. A few children were baptized at the beginning of his work. He has stayed in Zuni longer than any other Baptist missionary. The Baptist mission effort has used English almost exclusively. Now the mission occasionally uses a Zuni interpreter on Sunday evenings. But few Zunis attend church at the Baptist mission. Plans are being made to build a church building in a new addition at the edge of town.42
Growth. Table 6 contains the Baptist figures for membership, attendance, and baptisms. This information is graphed in Figure 11. Most of these baptisms have been of children. Note the increases during the ministries of Young and Moore.
Membership, Attendance, and Baptisms
| Year | Zuni Membership | Sunday | Zuni | | | Recorded | Active | School | Baptisms | | | | | Attendance | |
1959 6 3 1960 9 4 1961 46 11# 1962 30 53 11# 1963 3 1964 37 15# 5 1965 0 1966 37 9# 40 0 1967 41 56 4 1968 42 1 1969 46 4 1970 35 0 1971 3# 32 0
*Zuni Baptist Mission membership book, October 25, 1959--May 24, 1967; and Field Notes, personal communication with C, April 1971, and personal communication with M, June 1971.
The Mormon effort. One of the Zunis, Bowman Peywa, has been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints for several years. He is presently president of the congregation at Zuni. About five years ago a church building was erected on some of his property almost two miles east of the center of the pueblo. It is the same grey design that all Mormon church buildings on Indian reservations are. The church has few Zuni members and some of them still practice the Zuni religion. Two young elders are serving there now doing door-to-door missionary work among the Zunis. It is taught that the Zunis are one of the "lost tribes of Israel." Presently about fifty people attend church and most of these are Zuni children.43
Minor efforts. The Church of Christ owns a house trailer in Blackrock which serves as a church building. Permission to put the trailer in the pueblo was denied. The membership is all Anglo and there are only occasional Zuni visitors who are friends of the members. This congregation has met since 1969.44
Occasionally the Jehovah's Witnesses will do house-to-house visitation, but nothing comes of this. The Assembly of God tried to start a church around 1968, but after six months of trying to get permission to build a building, the missionary couple left. From 1962 to 1964 an independent church met in the house of Robert Lewis, the present governor. A Lutheran high school teacher does personal work. A few Zunis are members of the Baha'i Church in Gallup, but rarely attend.45
Wycliffe Bible Translators. In 1964, Curtis Cook came to Zuni for the Wycliffe Bible Translators to begin the task of translating the New Testament into Zuni. As is usual Wycliffe policy, he has worked with the already established missions, especially the Christian Reformed Mission, since they make an effort to use the Zuni language. In 1970, he completed the Gospel of Mark and this book was formally dedicated to the tribe on March 28, 1971. The translation is a "dynamic-equivalence" or "idiomatic" translation which seeks to employ the closest cultural equivalents for scriptural terms and utilizes Zuni words almost exclusively. He is about halfway finished with the rough draft of the book of Acts and is presently involved in literacy work.46
17Cornelius Kuipers, Zuni Also Prays (Grand Rapids: Christian Reformed Board of Missions, 1946), p. 109. [return]
18Annual Report ([n.p.]: Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., 1878), P. 11, cited by Beaver, loc. cit. [return]
19Frank H. Cushing, My Adventures in Zuni (Palmer Lake, Coloradot Filter Press, 1967), PP. 9, 14, 27. [return]
20G. E. E. Lindquist, The Red Man in the United States (New York: George H. Doren Company, 1923), p. 274. [return]
21Kuipers, loc. cit. [return]
2222Kuipers, op. cit., P. 104; and John Dolfin, Bringing the Gospel in Hogan and Pueblo (Grand Rapids: The Van Noord Book and Publishing Company, 1921), PP. 312, 313. [return]
23Kuipers, loc. cit.; Dolfin, loc. cit.; and address by Lorenzo Chavez, March 28, 1971. [return]
24Kuipers, op. cit., pp. 115, 116; Dolfin, op. cit., Pp. 313, 314, 327, 330; Leighton and Adair, op. Cit., P. 78; and Lindquist, op. cit. , pp. 274 , 275. [return]
25Dolfin, OP. Cit., PP. 313, 314. [return]
26Lindquist, op. cit., P. 275. [return]
27Kuipers, op. cit., pp. 74, 117, 1541 and Zuni Local Conference minutes, January 4, 1954. [return]
28Kuipers, op. cit., pp. 51, 119. [return]
29Kuipers, op. cit., p. 42, 43, 75, 77, 114, 119, 127, 128; and Field Notes, personal communication with C, January and April 1971. [return]
30Articles in The [Rehoboth, New Mexico] Christian Indian, June-July 1964, and May 1966; Zuni Local Conference minutes, March 16, 1955; and Field Notes, personal communication with G, April 1971. [return]
31Articles in The [Rehoboth, New Mexico] Christian Indian, August 1965, May 1966, September 1966, and September 1967; Alvin Huibregtse, "Christian Reformed Church, Board of Foreign Missions," The Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Missions, ed. Barton L. Goddard (Camden, New Jerseys Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1967), P. 156; Stanley E. Koning, "You Remember Zuni," The Banner, (April 24, 1970), 7; and Field Notes, personal observations, April 1971. [return]
32Field Notes, personal communication with H, January 1971. [return]
33Huibregtse, loc. cit. [return]
34Kuipers, op. cit., p. 139. [return]
35Kuipers, op. cit., pp. 24, 80, 87, 88. [return]
36Kuipers, op. cit., p. 76. [return]
37Leighton and Adair, op. cit., p. 28. [return]
38Lindquist, op. cit. , p. 274; and St. Anthony Indian Mission ([Zuni, New Mexico]: [St. Anthony mission]# [n.d.]), p. 3. [return]
39Field Notes, personal communication with I, May 1971, and personal communication with J, June 1971; and news item in the Zuni Drums, June 1971. [return]
40Ibid.; and St. Anthony Indian Mission, op. cit., p. 1. [return]
41Field Notes, personal communication with I and data sheet compiled by I, May 1971. [return]
42Zuni Baptist Mission membership book, October 25, 1959--May 24, 1967; and Field Notes, personal communications with C, K, L, and M. April 1971. [return]
43Field Notes, personal communication with various individuals, November 1970-May 1971. [return]
45Field Notes, personal communication with C, March 1971. [return]
46Field Notes, personal communication with C, January-May 1971. [return]
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